Dialogue as a tool in peacebuilding and conflict management

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The ability to resolve conflict through dialogue rather than violence, is an essential skill for Myanmar to build in order to reach a lasting peace. Dialogue needs to take place not just through the country’s Framework for Political dialogue, but at the community level too, where the impact of conflict is often felt most harshly.

With the support of JPF, the Centre for Development and Ethnic Studies (CDES) held a training of trainers (TOT) workshop in Yangon in late September to build dialogue and facilitation skills and promote a better understanding of the key principles of dialogue and conflict management.

CDES Program Manager Thawng Tha Lian explained the thinking behind the workshop:

“Myanmar is rich in its diversity of ethnicities, languages and religions, so a culture of dialogue is essential at both the community and national level to promote mutual understanding and peacebuilding. We believe these participants can help support peace in Myanmar and the through holding more dialogue in their communities.”

He said the workshop built on their earlier experience running trainings. “We implemented series of federalism and peace training sessions earlier this year and found that most of our participants also needed to develop dialogue and facilitation skills.”

On the first day of workshop, after Dr. Lian H. Sakhong, Vice-Chair of the Union Peace and Dialogue Joint Committee, had given a briefing on the current state of the peace process, participants were introduced to various aspects of dialogue practice, different types of peacebuilding approaches and conflict analysis. Participants also learnt about the concepts of federal state-building and the political dialogue process in Myanmar.

One of the participants, Aung Sithu, from the Myanmar Independent Living Initiative which is working for disability rights and supporting peace activities, explained: “These subjects are all new for me, and as a disabled person I don’t have many opportunities to attend this kind of training. I learned about different approaches to peacebuilding and conflict management from this training and I believe I can start sharing the knowledge that I learned and work on supporting the dialogue process in my local community.”

Altogether, 33 participants took part in this five-day intensive workshop, coming from Karen, Kachin, Shan and Mon States and Bamar majority areas. The workshop was held with the technical support of theUnited State Institute of Peace (USIP) and Nonviolent Peaceforce (NP).